Right now the question for the Mariners isn’t what can be fixed, but what can stay the same?
As we look to the next 90+ games of the season, we see that the Mariners only need to play 9 games over .500 to finish at .500. That’s a very doable number.
Let’s take a look at what can stay the same for Seattle going through the rest of the season.
Our 1-2 punch. Dare I say that right now Iwakuma might be the best pitcher in the American League? Obviously Max Scherzer is pushing it at 9-0, but simply put Hisashi does not let people reach base on him. With Felix atop the rotation and Kuma right behind, the Mariners can bank on doing pretty well with those two on the mound.
The ‘new’ young core. Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino are going to make a difference. Now, I’ll be honest and say I’m worried about Zunino’s defense after seeing him play against Oklahoma City a month ago. However, in the long term, he is going to learn a lot from Kelly Shoppach, who has caught his fair share of rotations. Shoppach can start two games out of every five, because Kuma’s ERA is below 2 when Shoppach is catching and then he can catch one other time during the week. It seems that Joe Saunders can have anybody catch him since he’s giving up a lot of runs consistently. The most important thing is letting these two guys get at-bats. If they don’t, then it’ll be tough for them to succeed at the major league level. Let Zunino catch Felix, Harang, and Bonderman and he can be great. There’s nothing bad about catching three veterans, especially when he caught Jeremy at Tacoma.
Our middle relievers. I’ll be the first to say Wilhelmsen should be the 6th inning guy at this point, but Furbush, Capps, and Medina are becoming a decently well-oiled machine in the middle. Wedge needs to work harder to play the matchups because we have depth in the pen. Sooner rather than later, we’ll have Pryor back and he can be our 8th inning with Capps closing games out. While he was hittable early on, his slider is WIPEOUT good and he can overpower others.
The veteran leadership. While some of these guys aren’t hitting or have let Father Time pass them, there is no doubt that guys like Raul, Endy, and Jason Bay are going to help the development of those around them. With no real infield veterans to depend on other than Kendry, those that are infielders (Seager, Franklin, Smoak) need to take advice from who they have around them and use it to their full advantage.
While it’s hard to be positive about 29-38, it’s also more time-consuming being negative about the future. As Mariners fans, we must take heed in the fact that we have had great years and we have had awful years. Hopefully soon enough, it’ll get better.
Within the week, look for an article about what I feel would be the best changes for the Mariners going forth this year and into next.